Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ideas to cut expenses, Part 5 camping/sleeping bags, cooking (edited again)

(Red type is the added, edited text)

But, but,....we don't have sleeping bags. Neither did the pioneers and they managed to crossed the continent without them. So here's how to make a bed roll.

Another how to bedroll.

How to roll a bedroll up and tie it.

Since some people might like to invest in sleeping bags, here a site on the purchasing and care of sleeping bags.

Or you can use two pieces of material with an old blanket, quilt, etc between it. Sew up 2 long sides and a short side to make a zipperless sleeping bag. Make it at least a foot longer than the person is tall and at least 5 inches wider than they are around. Instead of sewing, use diaper pins to pin it together. And when I say 2 pieces of material, it can be two pieced pieced together. In BIG chunks. You don't have to get all fussy and make a quilt top out of it. Just sew several large pieces of material together to get the size you want. A lot of us have material laying around from projects we "didn't get to" or handed down to us from others. Old sheets work, The bottom legs from worn out jeans work - though they would be heavy if you had to carry them very far.

Here's another idea on how to wrap up so you're not cold. It's a fire blanket for a fire bed. And here's her other info on how to make that fire bed. It's not a video either. (Word of caution. I wouldn't build a fire bed where there are any tree roots. Tree roots can catch fire and burn long after you're gone. They smolder very well. You don't want to start a forest fire - or one at your house either.)

But we don't have any mess kits or special pots for cooking and I don't want to ruin my good stuff. Remember me mentioning my 28 days in the high Uintas? My sole piece of equipment for cooking was an empty tin can. That had held about 28oz or so of peaches. And for group cooking, we had a lovely #10 can. You know those gallon cans that hold industrial size servings. Wallyworld here has them. You can get ketchup (a veggie in my house. sigh), peaches, fruit cocktail, pineapple pieces, green beans and more. Most of them cost between $2 and $4. Buy one, eat the contents (if your family can't use it all at one setting or before it spoils, portion contents into smaller containers/zip bags and freeze. Or dehydrate and take with you. (Whirl any of the fruits in the blender until smooth. Make a smoothie. Or put the resultant pulp on a dehydrator tray(ies) or cookie sheet(s) and dry it. It makes GREAT fruit leather! (and it's a LOT cheaper and healthier for you.)

You could also dry the veggies and then either take them as is, or put them in a blender and blend to a powder. To use them, Add 1/4 cup of dried veggies to 1/2 cup boiling water and allow to sit for 5-10 mins. Use some tomatoes and powder them, add hot milk to the powder and some seasoning and you have instant "cream of tomato" soup. Oh, yeah, we're camping. So add some powdered milk instead of liquid milk, then add water to the mix. (See what I mean about thinking outside of the box?)

What do you mean you don't have a cook stove? Neither did the pioneers. However, no one had any rules about not starting a fire. So you may, depending on where you live, need to use a stove.
Here's one type you can make.
Here's another.
This site has some great ideas and patterns for stoves, pot stands and other items! Follow his links to the different items.

Different types of fuels for those little camp stoves.

The other thing to use is a BBQ grill and charcoal. Most places you will be going to will have on-site grills. You need to bring charcoal, lighter fluid and matches. Many places have a fire-pit and you would need to obtain firewood and matches. Sometimes camp-sites will sell bundles of wood for a fire. They are expensive. Many of us have access to downed wood - wood that is already on the ground. I don't know of any campground that allows cutting of living trees. They don't make good firewood anyway. Green wood smokes like crazy and doesn't burn very well at all! Also, look up how to start a fire with wood. Boy/Girl Scout handbooks are a good place to begin. Also I'm sure there are sites on the internet to show you how.

Experiment BEFORE you go, so that WHATEVER method of cooking you choose to employ, you can handle the starting and care of it! OPEN FLAMES ARE DANGEROUS! Know what you're doing or have someone show you HOW to use your chosen method. REVIEW fire safety with your children!!! We don't want someone getting hurt or starting a forest fire because of carelessness.
Remember this: if YOU start the fire YOU are responsible for seeing that it is TOTALLY out. You have not only a moral responsibility, but a LEGAL one also. When the scouts camp, they have to put the fire out with copious amounts of water, stirring the fire and then use more water. Only when you can put your hand INTO the ashes and move it around is the fire OUT. There should be NO smoke, NO embers, NO nothing left. And that includes leaving it to go visit off the campsite or overnight. Only in survival situations do you have permission to leave a fire unattended, and even then it needs to be properly banked or put out if possible.

I personally have started many a fire from "put out" fires. Ones left overnight that were "put out". And it wasn't hard. A couple pieces of toilet paper, dryer lint or "punk", a few puffs of breath, a little tinder, some kindling and the fire was going quite well. All nature needs is a few dry leaves, a puff of wind and we have a wild fire. And yes, I know it took you 1/2 a box of matches to get that fire going. Been there, done that. But all it takes is a spark to get a wild fire going. Not fair, but that's life and Murphy's law.

Again, you don't have to BUY stuff to camp. Just use what's on hand. Do a trial camp out in your own back yard. See what you need and what you don't need. Perhaps try it once allowing everyone to go in and out. Tweak your list. Then try it again another night, but don't allow anyone into the house, except for potty usage.

Make a list of what you need for camping out. Your list will be different from mine. Keep your camping gear in backpacks or containers - where you have it all together.

Ok, so where do you now go to camp.
Backyard or rooftop camping is free. Yours, grandparents, friends, near or far.
State parks
National Parks
Some beaches - make sure they're safe places and not drinking/drug hangouts.
Locally known "camping" areas. (Known to the locals, but not to any published guide.
Private camp grounds like KOA (Kamp ground of America).

Definition of terms (And from cheapest to most expensive):
Privative camping- means that there are NO facilities. No bathrooms, no water. Either none whatsoever or none that is very near. That translates you will either walk a mile for bathrooms and water or you will have to bring in your own. Cost: between $5-$15 or so a night.

Car camping- parking is very close or right at the campsite. Convenient with little children. Usually bathrooms are quite close by and water, bbq/fire pits and a picnic table are on the campsite. The last few times we've camped with friends, we've done this and it's been really good that we did. They have small children and neither of them are "campers". When we camped with them, both times it rained very heavily. First time, tornado watches were posted. We packed up in the middle of the night and spend the rest of the night in the cars. The second time it just rained and we stayed put. I've also gone out with a Scouter and his daughter. We were experienced campers and so, even though my kids were young and it snowed, we stayed. We were prepared and could all handle the conditions - which included keeping little ones warm and dry. Cost: between $10 and $25 or so a night.

RV camping-self-explanatory, I think!
The RV is pulled into a spot and plugged into the electrical outlets. There are both temporary sites and sites where you can stay put for weeks/months - for a fee. lol Cost - out of this world. How much does an RV cost? And the gas for it now costs as much as it did. The parking(can you really call towing a house around with you camping?!) space is around $35-$50 a night.

Many camp sites have laundry facilities to go along with the restrooms and showers. Read the website's description of what they have to offer. If you're not sure, ask questions before plunking down a deposit. Also, note the deadlines for a refund. For some of the more popular parks, you have to make reservations in advance to get a spot, so call ahead to see what it's like at the park you wish to visit.


Tim Noble said...

I let campers at my wod take wood from trees and the ground for fires....however Buckinghamshire in the UK might be a bit far to come!

Darlene said...

I have never thought about the UK as a country where people go camping. I'm sure they do, I had just never thought of you guys camping. I guess your country seems so crowded that there would be no room (that didn't belong to the crown or large estates) to go camping.

It's funny what one's perception about a place are.

I'd love to get to the UK some day and visit(my distant progenitors were from Ireland,Scotland and closer ones from Germany and the Netherlands). The fact that there are places to camp makes that dream a little more accessible, though still not possible any time in the near future.

Thanks for the comment. (And for sharing your wood!)

Tim Noble said...

Camping is really big here.

There are a lot of people (around 55 million) on a fairly small island but the places we live are really small so there is a lot of countryside.

Ireland and Scotland has 1000's of acres of land.

Not all that much is owned by the large estates and crown these days - mainly just farmers who can't make a living by farming...

There is a narea outside towns called the green belt around all towns and cities to stop urban sprawl...